Liam Millar has packed plenty into his career by the age of 21 – and there’s more to come from the former Kilmarnock forward after leaving Liverpool.
The Canadian international completed a transfer to Swiss club FC Basel earlier this summer, signing a deal until 2025 after Liverpool agreed to sell him for a seven-figure fee. It’s a bold step from the 21-year-old after his experience in the Scottish Premiership with Kilmarnock and most recently Charlton Athletic at English League One level.
While not cementing himself as a first-team Liverpool player, Millar is written into Anfield history. After returning from his loan at Kilmarnock in 2020, he became the Merseyside outfit’s first Canadian player during an FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town. A youthful team was fielded, but Millar couldn’t care less.
Kilmarnock’s former forward tells NTOF of his exit from Anfield: “I always believed one day I would get my chance at Liverpool – I never stopped believing. But the chance for me to get my opportunity was getting smaller and smaller. It was a no-brainer, with the stage I’m at in my career, to complete a move to another big club.
“I am grateful for everything Liverpool did for me but I have to be playing regular minutes at a big club. Making my Liverpool debut was important for me. I wanted to play for the first-team. Yes, it was an U23s team, but nobody cares.
“People will says that it was a youth team, but for me, I can say I played for Liverpool. That was a big thing in my career as I was the first Canadian to ever play for Liverpool. It was a big honour for me and it will live with me forever. It’s a big accomplishment.”
Millar experienced both the good and the bad during his loan spell at Kilmarnock. He joined in January 2019 as Steve Clarke guided the club to a third place league finish six months later. By the time Millar returned to Liverpool after his second loan 12 months later, Angelo Alessio had replaced Clarke as manager and departed Rugby Park himself.
While only scoring two goals with three assists in 36 games for Kilmarnock, that does not paint the picture of Millar’s Ayrshire stint. He was effective under current Scotland head coach Clarke and Alessio’s style did not play to his strengths. A loan at Charlton last season with nine goal contributions from 27 games proved his potential.
Millar explained: “I learned a lot from two loans at Kilmarnock and my spell at Charlton helped me too – I got my stats up a bit. That was one of my issues at Kilmarnock. I was always effective but without getting goals and assists. That’s what you are are judged on. My time with Steve Clarke was very good, even though I only started about two games.
“I could tell he was very good at what he does and I learned a lot from just being there. He had trust in me. I went back with Angelo Alessio and there were big changes at the club. It was a transitional period for the club and things didn’t go the way me or the other players wanted it to. I learned a lot from Kilmarnock.”
After Clarke’s departure to take up the Scotland head coach role, Kilmarnock embarked on a downward spiral following their third place finish, only now showing signs of recovery under Tommy Wright. Alessio was criticised during his time at Kilmarnock and left after less than six months. His successor, Alex Dyer, didn’t have much luck either.
Kilmarnock were relegated last season and now fight to return to the Premiership from the Championship. Millar didn’t see too many issues with Alessio: “Angelo had big shoes to fill when Steve Clarke left. I personally don’t think it was horrible. He had a lot of ideas I had seen at Liverpool. I didn’t mind it – it was a lot of passing and shape.
“That was ok for me. It wasn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. If that’s the way he coaches, that’s his job to assess the situation. I don’t think it was that bad. I just remember one day he walked in, said he was sacked, and walked out. He was maybe judged on how well Steve Clarke did. I know that I thought he was decent.
“I didn’t touch the ball too much though! Alessio was good in all fairness. The club went down last season and I have plenty of faith they can come back up – they shouldn’t be in the Championship. I have every faith they can get up and stay up.”
Millar’s focus is now on FC Basel. They are a big club, usually fighting it out with Young Boys for the Swiss Super League title. They have won the league 20 times, although the last trophy lift came in 2017. Basel have also claimed 13 Swiss Cups and have been regulars at Champions League and Europa League level.
It’s been a period of adjustment for Millar after playing in League One last season, but one he’s enjoying: “I am still trying find my feet a bit and get settled. I am trying to get my minutes up as the team were in a few weeks before I was.
“It has been a little bit challenging but that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come over here – to push myself out my comfort zone and see what I can get from myself. I’ll be up to speed in no time. I can see what the ambition is for the club. I want to win trophies and play in Europe.
“They are a huge club and known in the UK for being in the Champions League. I think it’s the best step for my career. I could have went to the English Championship or Scottish Premiership, who knows. But Basel have big ambitions and that’s something I have for my career as well.
“That’s the reason I was attracted as I want to be playing in Europe and winning titles. We have won every game so far and all the lads all speak some English.
“The quality of players is a bit of a jump from playing in League One last season so it will take time for me to get used to the league and my new players. But it’s all part of the process.”
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